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Crude Awakening

Best-selling author Michael Moore poses five questions that suggest the White House's War Against Terrorism could be an oil-fueled hostile takeover.

Affable political agitator Michael Moore -- who falls somewhere in the political/media landscape between conscientious consumer advocate Ralph Nader and rabble-rousing comedian Tom Green -- has hit the top of the New York Times' best-seller list with his new book Stupid White Men, which credibly discredits Bush's presidential "win" and clearly connects the dots between Bush's Cabinet and its deep roots in the oil industry.

The star and director of the award-winning documentary Roger & Me and the Emmy Award-winning news show TV Nation and the recipient of the 1996 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award, Moore has a remarkable track record of presaging future political scandals and catastrophes. In his 1998-2000 program The Awful Truth, Moore produced a humorous segment on the Taliban in which he airlifted banned TVs into Afghanistan. In Stupid White Men, which was completed in the middle of 2001, he exposes the White House's cozy Enron connection to the CEO. In the section titled "Shadow Adviser to the President -- Kenneth L. Lay" he contends, "Bush and [Vice President Dick] Cheney rely on Lay for advice; some administration appointees must first be 'interviewed' by Lay before getting the job." The one area that the book does not cover is the events of 9/11 or the aftermath. So, in an ersatz epilogue to Stupid White Men, Moore poses five questions to President Bush about his relationship to the Taliban that provide some high-octane fuel for thought.

I understand the support for Bush. Any time a group of human beings is attacked, there is a tendency to rally behind the leader. If this is all you've got, then it's love the one you're with. I think that after six months, though, people are tired of shutting up. They're tired of being told that if you ask questions of the leader, you're being unpatriotic. You're unpatriotic when you remain silent. When your brain says, "I have a question," and you don't ask a question, that's not being an American.

We've been told we went to find the murderer Osama bin Laden. I thought that was the mission: Smoke him out and kill him. Now we've burned down the haystack to find the needle and we didn't find the needle. Just like Bush's daddy. We stopped 60 miles short of Baghdad. That doesn't accomplish the mission. There's no vested interest we have in removing the Taliban, other than none of us want to see what they do to women there. Women are abused all over the world, not just in Afghanistan, but we're not going to go and invade those countries. On New Year's Day, Saudi Arabia celebrated January 1 this year by chopping off the heads of three gay guys. We're not going to go invade them for that. So, why are we there? I don't have the answer, but I have five questions.

Why was it in the days after September 11, when no plane could fly anywhere in the country, the Bush administration allowed one plane to fly:

a private Saudi-chartered jet that went to four or five American cities and picked up numerous members of the bin Laden family and their associates? Nobody in the media has picked up on this. The FBI was upset because in a murder investigation, the police like to talk to the relatives when you can't find the murderer. "What do you know? What do you know?" The FBI wanted to interrogate them. Bush said, No, you're not to interrogate any of the bin Ladens. They get a free pass out of the country. 280 million Americans, and the only people who flew on those three days were people named bin Laden.

What are the financial connections between the bin Ladens and the Bushs?

Turns out that the bin Laden family helped to finance George W.'s first oil venture called Arbusto. The bin Ladens have been in business with George Sr. now since he was out of the White House in the Carlyle Group. When Bush W. goes to visit Saudi Arabia, he goes to see the bin Ladens at the palace. I want to know what the financial connections are between the Bushs and the bin Ladens. [The bin Laden family divested from Bush Sr.'s Carlyle Group in late October 2001. -- Ed.]

What was Bush's involvement in the 1997 Texas meeting between the Taliban and oil executives?

In 1997, according to the BBC, when Bush was governor of Texas, oil executives in Houston hosted a delegation of Taliban members to discuss the building of a pipeline across Afghanistan for natural gas. A number of meetings were held in Texas. What was Bush's involvement in that, and what are his dealings with the Taliban? I'd like to know the dealings that Cheney has, because it looks like Halliburton Industries is now going to help build that pipeline, and he was the chairman of Halliburton at the time.

Why was it the Bush administration gave $43 million of our tax money to the Taliban last May? In what form did they give the money?

They call it humanitarian aid. I'm telling you that four months before September 11, George Bush is giving the Taliban money! What the fuck was that about? The question you have to ask, then, is, Was it the Taliban who blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?

Here's what part of the $43 million was for. They called it humanitarian aid, which would be perfectly OK. That would be their answer, that it was administrated through the UN, so it didn't really go into the Taliban's hands. A good chunk of the money, what it was earmarked for, was because the Taliban had signed up to Bush's war on drugs. What Bush did was pay the poppy farmers to stop growing the poppies. The Taliban said, Well, that's going to put a lot of our friends out of business here. So the Bush administration offered to bail them out. Bush said, We'll give the heroin pushers, the poppy farmers, millions of dollars of taxpayers' money to get them to stop growing it. Could you imagine them going into inner cities anyplace in America with that policy? "All you drug pushers, if you stop, we'll give you a million bucks each." Can you imagine that? That's not our policy, is it? I want to know what's behind that $43 million...what's really going on over there?

Is Bin Laden back in Saudi Arabia?

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers are from Saudi Arabia. Since then, law enforcement in Saudi Arabia has refused to help the FBI and refused to let the FBI into Saudi Arabia. The FBI have not been able to ask a single question of anybody to aid in the investigation. Considering this and the Saudi bomber list, was bin Laden ever really in Afghanistan? A Washington Post article a few days after September 11 says that Osama bin Laden is on dialysis. He's been on dialysis for 18 months. Now you're telling me the mastermind of all evil is running from cave to cave hooked up to a kidney machine? This is like a Mike Myers film almost with Dr. Evil hooked up to wires going from cave to cave. The man's been near death. Look at the last video of him. His skin is green, his face is gaunt. He's not in Afghanistan and he never was, in my humble opinion. I don't know what that Flintstones set was that was behind him in those videotapes with the big boulders, but I don't buy it.

I want to know the truth. I want to know why the deal went south with the Taliban and what was going on. How is it that the son of one oil man is attacking a country of the son of another oil man?

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